Probation Officers’ judgements: A study using Personal Construct Theory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Summary: Social workers and probation officers are frequently called upon to make judgements about the likelihood of re-offending. However, whilst the use of risk assessment instruments is now commonplace, the cognitive processes through which these judgements are made are rarely explicit. Findings: This study used the repertory grid method to elicit the constructs of judgements about re-offending of 15 experienced probation officers. Primary factors in their judgements were related to: (1) responsibility and risk taking behaviour; (2) criminal history; (3) self-awareness; and (4) stability. Personality characteristics, substance misuse and family dysfunction were also important. The findings are discussed in relation to two theoretical frameworks for understanding decision making: heuristics and biases and image theory, which focuses on values. Application: It is suggested that the design and implementation of assessment tools should be undertaken in the light of the constructs used in making professional judgements which inform the relevant decision making.
LanguageEnglish
Pages1-19
JournalJournal of Social Work
VolumeN/A
Early online date21 Feb 2018
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Feb 2018

Fingerprint

Personal Construct Theory
probation officer
decision making
self awareness
risk assessment
social worker
heuristics
Risk-Taking
personality
Decision Making
responsibility
trend
history
Values
Personality

Keywords

  • Assessment
  • decision making
  • criminal justice
  • probation
  • professional judgement
  • re-offending
  • repertory grid
  • risk
  • social work.

Cite this

@article{e6424e8e0035468a8bc23304cf8455a9,
title = "Probation Officers’ judgements: A study using Personal Construct Theory",
abstract = "Summary: Social workers and probation officers are frequently called upon to make judgements about the likelihood of re-offending. However, whilst the use of risk assessment instruments is now commonplace, the cognitive processes through which these judgements are made are rarely explicit. Findings: This study used the repertory grid method to elicit the constructs of judgements about re-offending of 15 experienced probation officers. Primary factors in their judgements were related to: (1) responsibility and risk taking behaviour; (2) criminal history; (3) self-awareness; and (4) stability. Personality characteristics, substance misuse and family dysfunction were also important. The findings are discussed in relation to two theoretical frameworks for understanding decision making: heuristics and biases and image theory, which focuses on values. Application: It is suggested that the design and implementation of assessment tools should be undertaken in the light of the constructs used in making professional judgements which inform the relevant decision making.",
keywords = "Assessment, decision making, criminal justice, probation, professional judgement, re-offending, repertory grid, risk, social work.",
author = "Judith Mullineux and Brian Taylor and Melanie Giles",
note = "Reference text: {\AE}gisd{\'o}ttir, S., White, M.J., Spengler, P.M., Maugherman, A.S., Anderson, L.A., Cook, R.S., Rush, J.D., Anderson, L.A., Cook., R.S., Nichols, C.N., Lampropoulos, G.K., Walker, B.S., Cohen, G. & Rush, J.D. (2006). The meta-analysis of clinical judgment project: Fifty-six years of accumulated research on clinical versus statistical prediction. The Counseling Psychologist, 34 (3), 341-382. doi: 10.1177/0011000005285875 Andrews, D. A. & Bonta, J. (1995). The level of service inventory – revised. Toronto, Multi-Health Systems. Andrews, D.A., & Dowden, C. (2006). Risk principle of case classification in correctional treatment. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 50 (1), 88-100. doi: 10.1177/0306624X05282556 Andrews, D.A., Bonta, J., & Wormith, J.S. (2006). The recent past and near future of risk and/or need assessment. Crime & Delinquency, 52 (1), 7-27. doi: 10.1177/0011128705281756 Beach, L.R. & Connelly, T. (2005). The psychology of decision making, (2nd ed.) California: Sage. Beail, N. (Ed.). (1985). Repertory grid technique and personal constructs: applications in clinical and educational settings. London: Croom Helm. Bonta, J. (1996). Risk-needs assessment and treatment. In: A.T. Harland (Ed.) Choosing correctional options that work: defining the demand and evaluating the supply. Thousand Oaks: Sage. Byrne, J. (2006). Assessing the role of clinical and actuarial risk assessment in an evidence-based community corrections system: issues to consider. Federal Probation, 70 (2). Retrieved from http://www.uscourts.gov/viewer.aspx?doc=/uscourts/FederalCourts/PPS/Fedprob/2 006-09/index.html Byrne, J. & Robinson, R. (1990). Juvenile risk classification in Illinois: An examination of inter-rater reliability. Springfield, Illinois, Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts. Council of Europe (2010) Recommendation CM/Rec (2010) 1 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on the Council of Europe Probation Rules (adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 20 January 2010). Retrieved from https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?id=1563957 Fransella, F. & Bannister, D. (1977). A manual for repertory grid technique (2nd ed.). London: Academic Press. Fransella, F., Bell, R. & Bannister, D. (2004). A manual for repertory grid technique (2nd ed.). Chichester: Wiley. Gardner, F. (2014). Being critically reflective. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Gigerenzer, G. (2014). Risk Savvy: How to make good decisions. London: Penguin. Gigerenzer, G. & Goldstein, D.G. (1996). Reasoning the fast and frugal way: Models of bounded rationality. Psychological Review, 103 (4), 650-69. doi: 0033- 295X/96/$3.00 Giles, M. & Mullineux, J. (2000). Assessment and decision-making: Probation officers’ construing of factors relevant to risk. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 5, 165- 185. doi: 10.1348/135532500168074 Gladwell, M. (2006). Blink: The power of thinking without thinking. London: Penguin. Gottredson, S. D. and Morriarty, L.J. (2006). Clinical versus actuarial judgments in criminal justice decisions: Should one replace the other? Federal Probation, 70 (2),15-18. Hanson, R.K. and Morton-Bourgon, K.E. (2009). The accuracy of recidivism risk assessments for sexual offenders: a meta-analysis of 118 prediction studies. Psychological Assessment, 21 (1),1-21. doi: 10.1037/a0014421 Harris, P.M. (2006). What community supervision officers need to know about actuarial risk assessment and clinical judgment. Federal Probation, 70 (2). Retrieved from: http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/pblctns/ssssng-rsk-sxl-ffndrs/index- eng.aspx#a06 Hill, K., Wittkowski, A., Hodgkinson, E., Bell, R., & Hare, D. J. (2015). Using the Repertory grid technique to examine trainee clinical psychologists' construal of their personal and professional development. Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cpp.1961 Home Office (2002). Offender Assessment System: OASys - User manual. London: Home Office Houston, S. (2015). Reflective Practice: A model for supervision and practice in social work. Belfast: NISCC. Howard, P., Francis, B., Soothill, K. & Humphreys, L. (2009). OGRS 3: The revised Offender Group Reconviction Scale, Ministry of Justice Research Summary 7/09. London: Ministry of Justice. Hunt, D.E. (1951). Studies in role concept repertory: conceptual consistency. Unpublished master's thesis, Ohio State University. Jankowicz, D. (2004). The easy guide to repertory grids. Chichester: Wiley. Jones, N., Brown, S.L. & Zamble, E.Z. (2010). Predicting criminal recidivism in adult male offenders. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 37(8), 860-882. doi: 10.1177/0093854810368924 Keeler, J. (2010). Probation: a deceptive substitute for real contact, Probation Journal, 57(3), 304-313. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/0264550510379777 Kelly, G. (1955). The psychology of personal constructs. New York: Norton. Kelly, G. (1963). A theory of personality: The psychology of personal constructs. London: Norton. Knott, C. & Scragg, T. (2013). Reflective practice in social work. Exeter: Learning Matters. Lancaster, E. & Lumb, J. (2006). The assessment of risk in the national probation service of England and Wales. Journal of Social Work, 6 (3), 275-291. doi: 10.1177/1468017306071176 Matravers, A. & Hughes, G. (2003). Unprincipled sentencing? The policy approach to dangerous sex offenders, in M.Tonry (Ed.), Confronting Crime: Crime Control Under New Labour. Cullompton: Willan. Neimeyer, R. A. (1985). The development of personal construct psychology. USA: University of Nebraska. Roberts, C., Burnett, R., Kirby, A. & Hamill, H. (1996). A system for evaluating probation practice. Probation Studies Unit Report 1. Oxford: Centre for Criminological Research. Ross, L. (1977). The intuitive psychologist and his shortcomings: distortions in the attribution process. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology, 10. New York: Academic Press. Ruch, G. (2002). From triangle to spiral: reflective practice in social work education, practice and research. Social Work Education, 21 (2),199-216. doi: 10.1080/02615470220126435 Schwalbe, C.S. (2007). Risk assessment for juvenile justice: a meta-analyses. Law and Human Behavior, 31, 449-462. doi: 10.1177/0093854808324377 Taylor, B.J. (2006). Factorial surveys: Using vignettes to study professional judgement. British Journal of Social Work, 36(7),1187-1207. doi: 10.1093/bjsw/bch345 Taylor, B.J. & Campbell, B. (2011). Quality, risk and governance: Social Workers’ perspectives. International Journal of Leadership in Public Services, 7(4), 256-272. doi: 10.1108/17479881111194152 Taylor B, J. (2016). Heuristics in professional judgement: a psycho-social rationality model. British Journal of Social Work, 0, 1-18. doi: 10.1093/bjsw/bcw084 Taylor B, J. (2017). Decision Making, Assessment and Risk in Social Work (3rd Ed.). London: Sage. Taylor, B.J. & Killick, C.J. (2013). Threshold decisions in child protection: Systematic narrative review of theoretical models used in empirical studies (conference abstract). Medical Decision Making, 33(2). doi: 10.1177/0272989X12455402 Tversky, A. & Kahneman, D. (1974). Judgement under uncertainty: heuristics and biases. Science, 185,1124-1131. Retrieved from https://people.hss.caltech.edu/~camerer/Ec101/JudgementUncertainty.pdf Webster, C., Douglas, K., Eaves, M.D. & Hart, S. (1997). HCR-20 Assessing risk for violence (version 2). Vancouver: Simon Fraser University. Whitehead, P. & Thompson, J. (2004). Knowledge and the probation service. Chichester: Wiley. Winter, D.A. (1992). Personal construct psychology in clinical practice: theory, research and applications. London: Routledge. Yorke, M. (1989). The intolerable wrestle: Words, numbers and meanings. International Journal of Personal Construct Psychology, 2(1), 65-76. doi: 10.1080/08936038908404739",
year = "2018",
month = "2",
day = "21",
doi = "10.1177/1468017318757384",
language = "English",
volume = "N/A",
pages = "1--19",
journal = "Journal of Social Work",
issn = "1468-0173",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Probation Officers’ judgements: A study using Personal Construct Theory

AU - Mullineux, Judith

AU - Taylor, Brian

AU - Giles, Melanie

N1 - Reference text: Ægisdóttir, S., White, M.J., Spengler, P.M., Maugherman, A.S., Anderson, L.A., Cook, R.S., Rush, J.D., Anderson, L.A., Cook., R.S., Nichols, C.N., Lampropoulos, G.K., Walker, B.S., Cohen, G. & Rush, J.D. (2006). The meta-analysis of clinical judgment project: Fifty-six years of accumulated research on clinical versus statistical prediction. The Counseling Psychologist, 34 (3), 341-382. doi: 10.1177/0011000005285875 Andrews, D. A. & Bonta, J. (1995). The level of service inventory – revised. Toronto, Multi-Health Systems. Andrews, D.A., & Dowden, C. (2006). Risk principle of case classification in correctional treatment. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 50 (1), 88-100. doi: 10.1177/0306624X05282556 Andrews, D.A., Bonta, J., & Wormith, J.S. (2006). The recent past and near future of risk and/or need assessment. Crime & Delinquency, 52 (1), 7-27. doi: 10.1177/0011128705281756 Beach, L.R. & Connelly, T. (2005). The psychology of decision making, (2nd ed.) California: Sage. Beail, N. (Ed.). (1985). Repertory grid technique and personal constructs: applications in clinical and educational settings. London: Croom Helm. Bonta, J. (1996). Risk-needs assessment and treatment. In: A.T. Harland (Ed.) Choosing correctional options that work: defining the demand and evaluating the supply. Thousand Oaks: Sage. Byrne, J. (2006). Assessing the role of clinical and actuarial risk assessment in an evidence-based community corrections system: issues to consider. Federal Probation, 70 (2). Retrieved from http://www.uscourts.gov/viewer.aspx?doc=/uscourts/FederalCourts/PPS/Fedprob/2 006-09/index.html Byrne, J. & Robinson, R. (1990). Juvenile risk classification in Illinois: An examination of inter-rater reliability. Springfield, Illinois, Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts. Council of Europe (2010) Recommendation CM/Rec (2010) 1 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on the Council of Europe Probation Rules (adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 20 January 2010). Retrieved from https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?id=1563957 Fransella, F. & Bannister, D. (1977). A manual for repertory grid technique (2nd ed.). London: Academic Press. Fransella, F., Bell, R. & Bannister, D. (2004). A manual for repertory grid technique (2nd ed.). Chichester: Wiley. Gardner, F. (2014). Being critically reflective. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Gigerenzer, G. (2014). Risk Savvy: How to make good decisions. London: Penguin. Gigerenzer, G. & Goldstein, D.G. (1996). Reasoning the fast and frugal way: Models of bounded rationality. Psychological Review, 103 (4), 650-69. doi: 0033- 295X/96/$3.00 Giles, M. & Mullineux, J. (2000). Assessment and decision-making: Probation officers’ construing of factors relevant to risk. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 5, 165- 185. doi: 10.1348/135532500168074 Gladwell, M. (2006). Blink: The power of thinking without thinking. London: Penguin. Gottredson, S. D. and Morriarty, L.J. (2006). Clinical versus actuarial judgments in criminal justice decisions: Should one replace the other? Federal Probation, 70 (2),15-18. Hanson, R.K. and Morton-Bourgon, K.E. (2009). The accuracy of recidivism risk assessments for sexual offenders: a meta-analysis of 118 prediction studies. Psychological Assessment, 21 (1),1-21. doi: 10.1037/a0014421 Harris, P.M. (2006). What community supervision officers need to know about actuarial risk assessment and clinical judgment. Federal Probation, 70 (2). Retrieved from: http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/pblctns/ssssng-rsk-sxl-ffndrs/index- eng.aspx#a06 Hill, K., Wittkowski, A., Hodgkinson, E., Bell, R., & Hare, D. J. (2015). Using the Repertory grid technique to examine trainee clinical psychologists' construal of their personal and professional development. Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cpp.1961 Home Office (2002). Offender Assessment System: OASys - User manual. London: Home Office Houston, S. (2015). Reflective Practice: A model for supervision and practice in social work. Belfast: NISCC. Howard, P., Francis, B., Soothill, K. & Humphreys, L. (2009). OGRS 3: The revised Offender Group Reconviction Scale, Ministry of Justice Research Summary 7/09. London: Ministry of Justice. Hunt, D.E. (1951). Studies in role concept repertory: conceptual consistency. Unpublished master's thesis, Ohio State University. Jankowicz, D. (2004). The easy guide to repertory grids. Chichester: Wiley. Jones, N., Brown, S.L. & Zamble, E.Z. (2010). Predicting criminal recidivism in adult male offenders. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 37(8), 860-882. doi: 10.1177/0093854810368924 Keeler, J. (2010). Probation: a deceptive substitute for real contact, Probation Journal, 57(3), 304-313. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/0264550510379777 Kelly, G. (1955). The psychology of personal constructs. New York: Norton. Kelly, G. (1963). A theory of personality: The psychology of personal constructs. London: Norton. Knott, C. & Scragg, T. (2013). Reflective practice in social work. Exeter: Learning Matters. Lancaster, E. & Lumb, J. (2006). The assessment of risk in the national probation service of England and Wales. Journal of Social Work, 6 (3), 275-291. doi: 10.1177/1468017306071176 Matravers, A. & Hughes, G. (2003). Unprincipled sentencing? The policy approach to dangerous sex offenders, in M.Tonry (Ed.), Confronting Crime: Crime Control Under New Labour. Cullompton: Willan. Neimeyer, R. A. (1985). The development of personal construct psychology. USA: University of Nebraska. Roberts, C., Burnett, R., Kirby, A. & Hamill, H. (1996). A system for evaluating probation practice. Probation Studies Unit Report 1. Oxford: Centre for Criminological Research. Ross, L. (1977). The intuitive psychologist and his shortcomings: distortions in the attribution process. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology, 10. New York: Academic Press. Ruch, G. (2002). From triangle to spiral: reflective practice in social work education, practice and research. Social Work Education, 21 (2),199-216. doi: 10.1080/02615470220126435 Schwalbe, C.S. (2007). Risk assessment for juvenile justice: a meta-analyses. Law and Human Behavior, 31, 449-462. doi: 10.1177/0093854808324377 Taylor, B.J. (2006). Factorial surveys: Using vignettes to study professional judgement. British Journal of Social Work, 36(7),1187-1207. doi: 10.1093/bjsw/bch345 Taylor, B.J. & Campbell, B. (2011). Quality, risk and governance: Social Workers’ perspectives. International Journal of Leadership in Public Services, 7(4), 256-272. doi: 10.1108/17479881111194152 Taylor B, J. (2016). Heuristics in professional judgement: a psycho-social rationality model. British Journal of Social Work, 0, 1-18. doi: 10.1093/bjsw/bcw084 Taylor B, J. (2017). Decision Making, Assessment and Risk in Social Work (3rd Ed.). London: Sage. Taylor, B.J. & Killick, C.J. (2013). Threshold decisions in child protection: Systematic narrative review of theoretical models used in empirical studies (conference abstract). Medical Decision Making, 33(2). doi: 10.1177/0272989X12455402 Tversky, A. & Kahneman, D. (1974). Judgement under uncertainty: heuristics and biases. Science, 185,1124-1131. Retrieved from https://people.hss.caltech.edu/~camerer/Ec101/JudgementUncertainty.pdf Webster, C., Douglas, K., Eaves, M.D. & Hart, S. (1997). HCR-20 Assessing risk for violence (version 2). Vancouver: Simon Fraser University. Whitehead, P. & Thompson, J. (2004). Knowledge and the probation service. Chichester: Wiley. Winter, D.A. (1992). Personal construct psychology in clinical practice: theory, research and applications. London: Routledge. Yorke, M. (1989). The intolerable wrestle: Words, numbers and meanings. International Journal of Personal Construct Psychology, 2(1), 65-76. doi: 10.1080/08936038908404739

PY - 2018/2/21

Y1 - 2018/2/21

N2 - Summary: Social workers and probation officers are frequently called upon to make judgements about the likelihood of re-offending. However, whilst the use of risk assessment instruments is now commonplace, the cognitive processes through which these judgements are made are rarely explicit. Findings: This study used the repertory grid method to elicit the constructs of judgements about re-offending of 15 experienced probation officers. Primary factors in their judgements were related to: (1) responsibility and risk taking behaviour; (2) criminal history; (3) self-awareness; and (4) stability. Personality characteristics, substance misuse and family dysfunction were also important. The findings are discussed in relation to two theoretical frameworks for understanding decision making: heuristics and biases and image theory, which focuses on values. Application: It is suggested that the design and implementation of assessment tools should be undertaken in the light of the constructs used in making professional judgements which inform the relevant decision making.

AB - Summary: Social workers and probation officers are frequently called upon to make judgements about the likelihood of re-offending. However, whilst the use of risk assessment instruments is now commonplace, the cognitive processes through which these judgements are made are rarely explicit. Findings: This study used the repertory grid method to elicit the constructs of judgements about re-offending of 15 experienced probation officers. Primary factors in their judgements were related to: (1) responsibility and risk taking behaviour; (2) criminal history; (3) self-awareness; and (4) stability. Personality characteristics, substance misuse and family dysfunction were also important. The findings are discussed in relation to two theoretical frameworks for understanding decision making: heuristics and biases and image theory, which focuses on values. Application: It is suggested that the design and implementation of assessment tools should be undertaken in the light of the constructs used in making professional judgements which inform the relevant decision making.

KW - Assessment

KW - decision making

KW - criminal justice

KW - probation

KW - professional judgement

KW - re-offending

KW - repertory grid

KW - risk

KW - social work.

U2 - 10.1177/1468017318757384

DO - 10.1177/1468017318757384

M3 - Article

VL - N/A

SP - 1

EP - 19

JO - Journal of Social Work

T2 - Journal of Social Work

JF - Journal of Social Work

SN - 1468-0173

ER -